4 adaptations for a home with older adults

Did you know that if you live with an older adult, there are adaptations that you can make at home to offer more well-being? We summarize them here.

Last update: September 21, 2021

Throughout life, needs and interests change. Over time, it is normal for physical abilities to change and mobility becomes difficult. In this regard, it is essential to make modifications to the home that guarantee safety and comfort. In this article we will show you several adaptations for a home with older adults that you should consider.

When housing adaptations are not made, taking into account the specific capacities and needs of household members, the risk of having accidents is increased, reducing quality of life and well-being, and make daily tasks difficult. Although old age is not synonymous with disease, it is a stage in which you are more prone to developing certain pathologies.

Therefore, it is vital to have a space that allows the elderly to have a full life, that allows them to carry out their activities safely and be active members of the home. It should be noted that adaptations must be made according to each specific case.

1. Shower and bath against falls

This is one of the adaptations for a home with older adults that reduces the risk of fractures. As mobility decreases with age, it is advisable to adapt the shower space to make it safer and to avoid falls.

To make it, floors with non-slip surface can be installed and add grab bars on the sides for support. It is essential to verify that these bars are fully fixed and do not come off easily. There are some fixed and others that can be moved.

If the person for whom the adaptations are being made is in a wheelchair or has very limited mobility, it is also appropriate install a chair in the shower that allows you to bathe more comfortably and safely. There are raised toilets that have bars on the sides, which work as an aid to support the arms.

Accommodations for a home with older adults should consider whether the person uses a wheelchair.

2. Comfortable and cozy room

The bedroom is the place where each person enjoys their privacy. Therefore, it is essential that it is pleasant, comfortable and safe.

Since older adults often have special mobility needs, it is advisable to install railings at the edge of the bed, that allow them to stand up and lie down. There are also reclining beds and chairs that, in addition to being orthopedic, can be put in different positions to facilitate mobility.

It is convenient to have a seat in the dressing room or near the closet that serves to support or put clothes while dressing. It is also helpful to have a shoehorn to help put on your shoes. On the other hand, if they must have multiple medications, it is convenient to have a pill organizer on top of the nightstand and a device that works as an alarm to remind the times of the shots.

Lighting is also a fundamental aspect. It is convenient to have lamps that can be turned on and off easily from the bed or adapt the lighting system in such a way that it can be controlled without stopping. On the other hand, in case the person requires a lot of assistance, it is convenient to have a telephone or a communication system.

3. Unobstructed circulation areas

The common areas of the house should also be adapted so that the elderly person is safe and can move around comfortably, especially if they use a cane or a wheelchair. To get started, you have to eliminate those objects that could become an obstacle, like slippery mats.

It is essential to verify that there are no unevenness in the floor, especially outdoors, such as loose tiles or inconspicuous steps. If possible, non-slip floors should be installed without unevenness or steps.

In case there are steps, it is convenient to put railings that allow the adult to hold on. Sliding doors should be installed to facilitate the movement of wheelchairs.

4. Forget-proof kitchen

In old age there may be a loss of memory or a decrease in the capacities of the senses. This is dangerous when cooking, because a little forgetfulness can cause the gas to escape or an electrical appliance to stay on for a long time.

One of the recommendations of the International Congress on Social Housing is that kitchen appliances, whether electric or gas, have safety valves. However, it is also pointed out that the design of spaces for the elderly should favor relationships. That is, they encourage displacement and physical or mental exercise.

In this regard, cooking is an activity that both adults and children like, and it can be very stimulating. Therefore, the kitchen should also be set up in such a way that it is pleasant to prepare food. The height of pantries, drawers and countertops must be considered.

The adaptations in the home of an older adult, especially in the kitchen, should not limit the use of the facilities, so that it does not reduce the well-being associated with pleasant activities.

Importance of meeting these needs of the elderly

Adapting homes to the needs of the elderly is essential to guarantee their quality of life and dignified aging. A guide to home safety for the elderly, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, notes that vision, hearing, sense of touch, smell, memory and bone density are impaired that it is part of the natural aging process.

Nevertheless, this can increase the risk of being injured. In conclusion, meeting the needs of the elderly is key to reducing the chances of accidents with serious consequences. In addition, these adaptations will facilitate independence, being a sign of respect and consideration for the elderly and their change processes.

Mental health is important too!

In this article we have talked about the physical adaptations that must be made in a home with older adults to guarantee a comfortable and safe old age. Nevertheless, taking care of emotions and mental health is also an aspect to take into account. Upon reaching an advanced age, it is recurrent for people to develop depression.

Therefore, the adaptation of the home must also include spaces that facilitate recreation and the performance of beneficial tasks. Consider reading, prayer, exercise, or craft spaces.